Melissa Edge, founder of Adventure Tykes, takes her son, Jackson, with her on every outdoor adventure possible. They are pictured here on Superstition Mountain near Phoenix. (Photo courtesy Bret Edge/Adventure Tykes)

Having a child changed Melissa Edge’s life but not her lifestyle.

“When I was expecting my son, people were always telling me that my days outdoors were over,” said Edge, who would escape to the nearest mountain, river, lake, national park, anyplace outside with her husband every chance she could before having children.

When her son, Jackson, was 6 months old, Edge was determined to find a way to continue her love of everything outdoors.

“If it’s truly a passion,” she said, “you’ll figure out a way to do it.”

In November 2009, Edge launched Adventure Tykes, a website that set out to provide “inspiration for big adventures with your little tyke.” Today, Edge says Jackson, now an energetic, curious 3-year-old, might love camping more than she does. He comes home from school many days asking to go camping or hiking.

Edge created Adventure Tykes to remark on outdoor adventure and to sell parents the gear and clothing necessary for a successful outing.

“If I need to wear appropriate clothing as an adult on an outdoor adventure, it’s even more important for kids,” said Edge, who gives a classic example of parents who dress their children in cotton for a day in the desert.

“In this climate, at the end of a day dressed in cotton, everyone is uncomfortable,” she said.

Edge worked with international retailers to sell young children’s merchandise online, but the Internet proved too vast and the items, for an ever-growing child, were too expensive.

In 2010, Edge refocused her efforts on the Adventure Tykes blog to provide valuable information about companies, merchandise and experiences to parents and other outdoor enthusiasts traveling with children.

“When I began, no one else was providing useful information about children’s outdoor gear,” she said. “In fact, at that time, REI and Patagonia were the only companies I was familiar with that were offering infant clothing and equipment.”

Edge contacted powerhouse outdoor clothing and equipment companies such as REI, Backcountry, Keen, Deuter, 66 North, Columbia and Smart Wool to receive sample merchandise to test and review via the Adventure Tykes blog. Having grown up outdoors, Edge thought it was best to write what she knew.

“If parents aren’t well-equipped for the outdoors, their kids never will be,” she said. “I want to make our readers aware of the gear that is available to them.”

For Edge, it’s about “educating, inspiring and motivating” for the best adventure possible.

The website receives an average of 250 visitors daily. Edge posts new information, gear reviews and perspective every day. Recent entries include: Now This is a Walking Stick; My 5 New Places Challenge and Have Strider…Will Travel. And, today, Edge rarely contacts companies requesting gear – they call Adventure Tykes to seek Edge’s review and opinion.

“People can, of course, do whatever they’d like with the information,” she said. “It’s always based on fact and a lot of research.”

While Edge certainly has opinions about brands and gear, she tries to be as objective as possible and offers three items – above all others – that parents should pay attention to for their tykes: sunglasses (always 100 percent UVA and UVB lenses); shoes (think support and protection for the activity at hand); and, if applicable, the investment in the best quality backpack carrier.

“It really comes down to the question, ‘What gear is going to motivate you to get outside?’” said Edge, who was busy planning for a week’s trip to the Grand Teton National Park.

On the list of items to bring along: headlamp, trekking poles, sleeping bags, water shoes – all for Jackson to test. Edge had shoes, a separate sleeping bag and various clothing items for her and her husband to try and review as well.

Many of the items Edge has tested are available to rent via the Adventure Tykes website. Edge offers items at a reasonable rate to provide a convenient vacation to, and adventure in, Moab.

This weekly feature highlights a Moab business. E-mail Meredith at with suggestions or tales of an exceptional experience.